It’s a new year so time for me to share my favourite books of 2021 before I leap into reading this year’s offerings. 2021 galloped by and threw many obstacles my way, but it produced some amazing books though for me, the world of witches and magic have shone above the rest.
In no particular order here are my best books of 2021:
2022 looks like it will also be a wonderful year for magic and romance with the publication of the final instalment of the Practical Magic series, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman and the future publication of Miranda Dickinson’s The Start of Something.
What were your favourite reads in 2021 and what are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments below.
A huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Random Things Tour, all the publishers who have supported my blog and allowed me early access to these wonderful books and of course, you my readers.
Finally, it is my turn to review Threadneedle by Cari Thomas and take part in this magical blog tour with Random Things Tour. For those who regularly follow my blow, you know much I love magic and witchcraft fiction so I could not resist the invite to read this advanced copy when I read the blurb. Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.
Book Review: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas
Author: Cari Thomas
Genre: YA fantasy, witchlit
Release date: 27th May 2021
Anna’s aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences. Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever. Until she meets Effie and Attis. They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells. But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her aunt was right all along. Is her magic a gift…or a curse? Told through spells created with knots and threads, this is a story that is both innovative and based in traditional witchcraft.
Where do I start? The physical copy of this book is a joy to hold with its red edges and stunning, vibrant cover. On opening, there is map and I’m a sucker for maps in books, they lure you into a story and add to the excitement of discovering the setting. It adds to the promise that there is a treat inside, and this novel doesn’t fail to deliver. It left me with a crushing book hangover for days.
Threadneedle is intense with a background tension which builds up to a crescendo of a climax that I would never have guessed, despite all the clues cleverly threaded throughout. It’s beautiful, and dark with impressive magical world building blended into reality. The depth and multi-layering means it could easily reread* and allow the reader to discover more about the characters and setting. Some of the imagery of the magic and punishments endured is so powerful it made me believe the book was created by magic itself. It is immersive so I felt Anna’s emotions – her confusion and pain while living with her controlling Aunt and her wonderment at the magic beneath her fingertips and in the locations she visits when she meets Effie. They are deliciously imaginative especially the library for witches and the second-hand shop. Part school drama, it is reminiscent of Heathers, The Craft and Stephen King’s Carrie but has an original feel. The characters are unique, memorable and made me think they were real while reading and beyond.
I love witch and magic themed books but this one is worlds ahead of the best. It has left me reeling in shock and in awe. It left me wanting to read more and I can’t wait to read more from this author. Not since the first reading of Deathly Hallows in the midst of Harry Potter mania has a book hit the spot like this. In fact, forget Hogworts I want to go on a tour of the Threadneedle locations.
Would I recommend?
Yes, it has become one of my favourite books and I know it will be on permanent loan from the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf by young and old customers. If you love witchlit, magic or a good YA fantasy this is a must to try. I long to be with fellow book lovers to talk about this for hours. It’s that type of book you don’t want to keep to yourself deserves to be loved, unravelled, discussed and then reread. *I have read it twice but also listening to it on Audible.
Cari Thomas has always loved magic, inspired by her upbringing among the woods and myths of Wales’ Wye Valley. She studied English and Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at The Cardiff School of Journalism. Her first job was at teen Sugar magazine where she ran the book club and quickly realized she wanted to be the one writing the books instead. She went on to work at a creative agency, spending her spare time researching magic and accumulating an unusual collection of occult books. She wrote her debut novel Threadneedle while living in London, wandering the city and weaving it with all the magic she wished it contained. She now lives in Bristol with her husband and son, who bears the appropriately Celtic name of Taliesin.
A note from Cari Thomas:
I remember the old family stories about my Great Aunt Mary. A fiercely independent, enigmatic woman who was said to be a witch. Perhaps it was these early stories seeping into my subconscious, perhaps it was devouring The Worst Witch, or growing up in rural Wales surrounded by myth and fairy tales, or maybe it was just me, but from a young age I developed a fascination for all things witches and magic. But let’s not forget that the witch’s hut always sits outside of the village for a reason. In my research, I became just as obsessed with magic’s opposite forces – repression, fear, suspicion and prejudice. After all, if my Great Aunt Mary had been alive a few centuries earlier she may well have been burnt at the stake.
Witch hunts became an area of fascination for me and the more I read the more outraged I became – how powerful, outspoken women and men, or people of the pagan faith, or simply outsiders, have time and time again been suppressed, silenced and extinguished from society. How the power structure of the day meant that it was near impossible for them to have a voice and to defend themselves.
Why was it such people terrified those in power? Why were we not taught more about this dark period of history? Why did the themes feel like they still resonated so strongly today? I explore these tensions in Threadneedle- the freedoms of magic set against a fear of witches and feminine power; schoolgirls forced to take on the injustices of the world one spell at a time. The sheer joy of writing the book came in bringing these tensions into the modern world and particularly into the London setting we think we know.
Ultimately, this is where the heart of the story lies: in feminine power and sisterhood. It brings together an unlikely set of outsiders, who together must navigate their way through the light and dark of being a young woman in today’s world. A world that is more complex than ever and yet still plagued by many of the same issues that my Great Aunt Mary would have faced, and all the witches who came before her.